Making room for new neighbors

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

Years ago, I reported on Farragut Municipal Planning Commission meetings where neighborhood groups challenged plans for high density housing and assisted living. Back then, the objection was always the same: “Single-family residential only!” I understood the sentiment. I live in a quiet, single-family neighborhood myself, and I would be alarmed at the idea a different kind of development close to my house.

Over the past year, the chant I hear on social media has changed to “No new neighborhoods!” This is harder for me to understand. How can you be opposed to other people having the very thing that you enjoy?

The answer, of course, is concerns about traffic and crowded schools. These are real problems that Farragut and Knox County will need to continually address, especially when so many people are choosing to relocate to East Tennessee. (Keep reading for more information about what the town and the county are doing to tackle these problems.) But the response to these concerns can’t be to prevent growth.

The Farragut area was primarily agricultural during the early 20th century. As family farms passed to the next generation, many of the new landowners opted to sell. Most of the property was purchased by developers and turned into subdivisions. Those neighborhoods are now one of Farragut’s defining features.

Now that the town is almost built out, would it be possible for Farragut leadership to deny permits for more new homes? No, says Vice Mayor Louise Povlin.

“The town of Farragut can’t deprive landowners of economically beneficial use of their property.”

While the town can legally place a temporary moratorium on development, it can only do so to allow time to consider changes related to current land use regulation. Given the existing residential character of Farragut and the town’s standardized roads (developers are required to bring substandard roads that access their development up to current standards), the town would have no reason to deny new subdivisions, Povlin says.

Builders will build as long as there’s demand, and there is unquestionable demand. According to a recent Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce housing forecast panel discussion, the housing shortage and inflated home prices aren’t going away anytime soon.

“The only thing that will change it is new construction,” said Hancen Sale, government affairs & policy director for the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors. “We won’t get back to pre-pandemic levels for a decade.”

There’s no denying the impact of new development on traffic and schools. The good news is that Farragut elected officials are working to address slowdowns on primary corridors. A town-wide traffic signal upgrade is scheduled for Farragut that would allow backups to be mitigated in real time. An upcoming traffic study will look at the addition of signals at both ends of Jamestowne Boulevard to relieve congestion at Campbell Station Road and Kingston Pike. A redesign of the lanes of Campbell Station Road at I-40/I-75 will reduce backups for westbound drivers.

Knox County is also getting ready to take a hard look at how roads are servicing growing areas. Advance Knox, a comprehensive planning process that will guide land use and transportation decisions in Knox County, kicks off in February. The project will analyze population growth projections, land availability, and infrastructure conditions. Peruse the website to find out how you can participate; it’s especially important for stakeholders who live in the Farragut area to participate.

The good news about schools is that a new elementary school is planned for southwest Knox County that will relieve overcrowding for a time.

Farragut is a great place to live, play and raise a family. We have amazing parks, connected sidewalks and trails, incredible community events and great schools, so it’s no surprise that we are attractive to new residents. We can make room.

Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut insider.

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